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Gastroenterology. 2004 Sep;127(3):723-9.

Postoperative maintenance of Crohn's disease remission with 6-mercaptopurine, mesalamine, or placebo: a 2-year trial.

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Department of Medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



No therapy has been shown to reliably prevent the evolution of postoperative recurrence of Crohn's disease. The aim of the current trial was to compare 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and mesalamine with placebo for the prevention of clinical, endoscopic, and radiographic recurrence of Crohn's disease after resection and ileocolic anastomosis.


Five centers randomized 131 patients to receive 6-MP (50 mg), mesalamine (3 g), or placebo daily in a double-blind, double-dummy trial. Patients had clinical assessments at 7 weeks and then every 3 months; colonoscopy at 6, 12, and 24 months; and small bowel series at 12 and 24 months. End points were clinical, endoscopic, and radiographic recurrence rates at 24 months.


Clinical recurrence rates (intent to treat) by life-table analysis at 24 months were 50% (95% confidence interval [CI], 34%-68%), 58% (95% CI, 41%-75%), and 77% (95% CI, 61%-91%) in patients receiving 6-MP, mesalamine, and placebo, respectively. Endoscopic recurrence rates were 43% (95% CI, 28%-63%), 63% (95% CI, 47%-79%), and 64% (95% CI, 46%-81%), and radiographic recurrence rates were 33% (95% CI, 19%-54%), 46% (95% CI, 29%-66%), and 49% (95% CI, 30%-72%), respectively. 6-MP was more effective than placebo ( P < 0.05) at preventing clinical and endoscopic recurrence over 2 years. Patient withdrawals resulted in 69% of the study population evaluable for the clinical recurrence end point.


6-MP, 50 mg daily, was more effective than placebo at preventing postoperative recurrence of Crohn's disease and should be considered as a maintenance therapy after ileocolic resection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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